As smartphones become more and more integrated into our society, we find ourselves becoming increasingly reliant on them in both our personal and professional lives. This is especially prevalent in the film and television world as the analog medium becomes increasingly rare and digital takes over.
A smartphone like the HTC One M8 has near infinite uses to any department on a film set. Beyond the more basic tools a smartphone can offer such as calculators, flashlights, cameras, sound recording tools and levels, the most powerful tools your phone offers are the apps. Here are just a few to consider:
Any director or cinematographer needs to plan out their shots to make sure the production runs smoothly. Apps like Artemis, a director’s viewfinder, and Shot Designer, a blocking and shot list creator are essential.
Before smartphones were so common, a director would have to bring a specialized viewfinder to determine the correct focal length for a given shot. But now, Artemis uses your smartphone’s camera to show you what field of view a focal length will give you. It works for a variety of sensor and film sizes as well.
Artemis and Shot Designer are a great combination. For example, you can use Artemis at a location scout to determine what lenses to use, and then use Shot Designer to make more detailed shot lists and storyboards.
Pocket AC is an invaluable app for anyone in the camera department. Here are just a few of its uses:
For the first assistant cameraman, there are depth of field charts for cameras ranging from entry level DSLRs to the professional level Arri Alexa and RED Epic Dragon. It also comes with reference materials for the specifications for every major camera and lens manufacturer. This means you’ll never be caught flat footed when your director or cinematographer asks you a question.
For the second assistant cameraman, Pocket AC comes with the ability to make detailed camera reports. You can even flag good takes to make the editing process faster. The information from the camera reports can then be used to generate a syncable insert slate, which can be exported through email in a CSV or HTML format.
There’s nothing worse than getting to your location and realizing that some of your equipment can’t fit through the door. Luckily, this can be avoided if you have the GripApp. This app contains information on the dimensions and specifications on just about any piece of equipment you can get your hands on including rigging supplies, jibs, dollies and even cranes.
The electricians on set also can use its sister app—Set Lighting Technician. This app has information on any kind of lighting setup you can think of. This includes tungsten, HMI and LED.
Sun Seeker is a useful app that can be used by several departments. It allows you to track the angle and direction the sun is moving throughout the day, and provides charts for sunrise, sunset and everything in between. This app can even use your phone’s camera to see a virtual sun in relation to where you are looking. This is especially helpful to determine if the sun will be obscured by trees or buildings even if it’s dark outside.